PETALING JAYA: There is no stopping Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) fast train in Malaysian football this year.
The southern side sealed the double this season after beating Kedah 3-0 in the Malaysia Cup final at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.
In June, they sealed the Super League for the sixth straight time.
The Southern Tigers’ goals were scored by Leandro Velazquez (26th), Safawi Rasid (34th) and Syafiq Ahmad (57th). It was the second Malaysia Cup title for JDT after they won it two years ago by beating the same opponents 2-0 at the Shah Alam Stadium.
The first half certainly belonged to the reigning Super League champions as Kedah looked devoid of ideas and made several rash challenges.
JDT could have drawn first blood in the fourth minute when Safawi’s measured free-kick found centreback Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak but the 32-year-old’s header hit the crossbar.
Kedah were dealt a blow when first-choice leftback Azmeer Yusof had to be taken off in the 15th minute following a knee injury. He was replaced by Norfiqrie Talib.
The Red Eagles could not get much of the ball and showed most of their frustration when Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak, Jonathan Bauman and Shakir Hamzah were cautioned by referee Nazmi Nasaruddin in the eighth, 13th and 20th minutes respectively.
JDT coach Benjamin Mora made a drastic decision in the 24th minute by taking off their key striker Diogo Santo for Syafiq Ahmad.
JDT’s industry and creativity paid off in the 26th minute when a brilliant interchange of play between Syafiq and Gonzalo Cabrera on the left was finished off by Velazquez.
Kedah could have equalised in the 31st minute when a free-kick from Edgar Bernhardt found captain Baddrol Bakhtiar but his header towards the near post went wide.
JDT extended their lead to 2-0 in the 34th minute when the mercurial Safawi unleashed a thumping free-kick that cannoned in off the bar past Kedah keeper Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim.
JDT added a third in the 57th minute when leftback La’vere Corbin Ong found Afiq Fazail on the left, who lobbed in a cross and it was met by the unmarked Syafiq, who buried a header past Ifwat.
With the game going away from Kedah, Aidil brought on wily Fayyadh Zulkifli for Farhan Roslan in the 64th minute and young libero Fadzrul Danel Nizam for Bernhardt in the 70th minute.
However, those moves didn’t really pay off as Kedah still looked lacklustre and most of their chances fell straight at JDT goalkeeper Farizal Marlias.
Kedah’s best chance in the second-half came in the 81st minute when captain Baddrol Bakhtiar’s free-kick from 30m was well saved by Farizal.
After 94 minutes of action, Nazmi blew the final whistle and JDT can look forward to a rapturous welcome in Johor Baru today.
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